Knickers! - Reviews
ST THOMAS TIMES-JOURNAL (July 24, 2010)
PORT STANLEY FESTIVAL THEATRE:
Sarah Quick comedy receives standing ovation on opening night
Knickers poignant and funny
A generous dose of Canadiana with depth and heart make for a well-knit comedy -- literally -- in the current offering at Port Stanley Festival Theatre.
A standing ovation was the end result as Knickers: A Brief Comedy opened to a capacity crowd Thursday. The production runs until Aug. 7.
Written by popular playwright Sarah Quick and directed by theatre veteran Simon Joynes, Knickers recounts the story of a fictional Northern Ontario town called Elliston Falls.
The community is in the depths of despair after the local mill shuts down, throwing many of the townsfolk out of work.
As the story opens, we come to know Barb, played by Susan Johnston Collins, Terri (Liz Gillroy) and Mary (Martha Zimmerman). The ladies gather for regular Weight Watchers meetings, which serve as an opportunity to down bottles of beer while eating chips and pondering life in a depressed community.
"You feel guilty about having fun when you might lose your home," Mary says at one point.
This is poignantly highlighted by monologues from each actress to both inform us of their characters, and tug at our heart strings. A tale of job loss is something St. Thomas area residents know all too well and the timeliness and treatment in Knickers elevates the play beyond a mere kneeslapper.
Things begin to change with the arrival of Amanda, played by Danielle Nicole, a globe-trotting woman hired as a tourism officer by the town.
After stumbling into a Weight Watchers meeting one night, she's soon downing suds with the lovely ladies, but instead of wallowing, Amanda becomes a catalyst for change that prompts the women into action.
And what's the solution to their dilemma?
Well, the title says it all, but you'll have to check out the production itself to find out more.
Knickers works because it has just the right mix of comedy and heart to make it compelling. We easily identify with the women, their problems on the home front and their efforts to raise both themselves, and their neighbours, out of their rut.
This is due in large part to the performances of Collins, Gillroy, Zimmerman and Nicole, who not only embody the heart and soul of the small town woman, but move flawlessly back and forth between dozens of smaller, but no less important, characters.
And, let's not forget about the many Canadian references scattered through the play, which distinctively marks Knickers as a product of the Great White North. Frequent use of the word "eh," bottles of Labatt 50 and reference to our national icon, Tim Hortons, bring a smile to one's face.
But don't be fooled into thinking this comedy is solely for the fairer sex. Knickers has plenty of laughs, including a few big ones, that appeal equally to both genders.
The play also takes a gentle, satirical poke at a variety of topics from gossiping seniors to municipal bafflegab, folksy small-town mannerisms and a handful of TV interviews that rank among the play's many highlights.
And, of course, you'll never think of the song I Will Survive in the same light again.
On that note, if you're going, best leave the kids at home. Knickers may leave you in stitches, but it's definitely for-adults-only fare.
ST. THOMAS/ELGIN WEEKLY NEWS
Turn right at the lacy knickers
Play combines laughs with economic reality
If there was ever a play that strikes close to home, it’s ‘Knickers: A Brief Comedy,’ now playing at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre.
A town’s major industry pulls out leaving hundreds out of work (remind of you anywhere?). Politicians hype tourism as the answer to the problem (remind you of anywhere?). A kitschy roadside statue is erected to attract attention (remind you of anywhere?).
The play may be set in Elliston Falls in Northern Ontario, but you could substitute Elgin County without a problem.
And even though politicians, red tape and the inhabitants themselves create obstacles to the town’s recovery (remind you of anywhere?), a group of enthusiastic women inspire the community to pull together and turn things around. Maybe there’s hope for us too.
But doom and gloom aside, this is a comedy played for laughs to the hilt.
Written by Sarah Quick and directed by Simon Joynes, the PSFT production has a great set by Eric Bunnell and the talents of four superb actors: Susan Johnston Collins, Liz Gilroy, Danielle Nicole and Martha Zimmerman.
The play has the delicious gossipy attitude of ‘The Women,’ the outrageous money-making scenario of ‘Calendar Girls,’ and the hilarious climactic finale of ‘The Full Monty.’
Bring a gaggle of girlfriends and enjoy a great night of girl talk with a decidedly Canadian slant.
by Francie Dennison
Now playing at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre, Knickers will have you laughing till your sides hurt!
Packed with outrageous one-liners, stellar performances by Liz Gillroy (Terri), Martha Zimmerman (Mary), and Susan Johnston Collins (Barb) will take you on a merry romp as down-home mill-town girls transform their town and their lives.
With town's mill shut down and employment in the town rapidly becoming a distant memory, the last thing these girls need is government spin from the primly proper, but philandering, transplanted tourist co-ordinator hired to turn a rock in the middle of nowhere into a tourist mecca. Or do they? Danielle Nicole as Amanda gives this character uniquely added dimensions we do not expect.
Amanda's bright idea of starting a business making designer underwear in all sizes catches the townspeople's imagination and support - but it's the getting there that's all the fun. Laughter continually rolled through the theatre with the audience repeatedly bursting into spontaneous applause. With the deep male voices adding a richness to the reverberating laughter, it was often hard to tell whether it was the men or the women in the audience who were most enjoying the show.
The two acts seemed to fly by in an instant as the audience jumped to its feet in a thunderous standing ovation to justly reward the actors at the final curtain call. Playing until August 7th, 2010, Knickers is a "must see" for anyone wanting to put a glow of merriment on their summer.